Making THE OWLS
August 20, 2009
Earlier this summer I decided to produce Cheryl Dunye’s new feature film THE OWLS, an experimental thriller about four older-wiser-lesbians who accidentally kill a young lesbian and try to get away with it. The film is an homage to dark sixties psychological dramas where lesbians often die in the end: The Fox, Killing of Sister George, Muriel, the work of Patricia Highsmith. We shot the “workshops” last weekend (where the esteemed cast improvised from the script, aligning their characters with their own life stories and making sense of the place of murder, alcoholism, infertility and other Highsmithian tones in their “real” lives). For instance, Guinevere Turner and VS Brodie, Go-Fish-sweeties extrordinaire, re-visited their past highs and lows, on and off-screen, to get into their new couple, the troubled ex-rockers, Iris and Lily.
object width=”425″ height=”344″>
The workshop was also when the B-unit (producing the documentary components of the film), which I am over-seeing, got rolling. We met (and shot) all the actors as themselves and their characters (as well as the spaces in-between), and interviewed much of the pared-down crew as well (the film is a micro-budget homage to the community spirit, and we’re-making-a-film-because-we want-to ways of early new queer cinema). We discussed issues of relevance to both the thriller-narrative and documentary components of the film: aging, inter-generational interaction within the queer community, the meanings of post-racial representation, tensions between butches and transgenderd members of the community (and crew), the legacy of nineties cinema. It was personal, political, and cinematic. A mix I love.
We shoot the rest of the film over five days this weekend. Yikes. More follows.
PS: The film features other queer cult-stars: Skyler Cooper, Lisa Gornick, Deak Evgenikos. Meanwhile, icons-in-their-own-rights like Jack Halberstam and Sarah Schulman took their parts as butch-consultant ans screenwriter, respectively. Everyone’s working for free. It’s a real family affair.